Nanoracks Completes Historic Above Space Station Cygnus CubeSat Deployment


Houston, TX – On November 25, 2016 NanoRacks successfully deployed four Spire LEMUR-2 CubeSats from Orbital-ATK’s Cygnus Cargo Vehicle from a 500-kilometer orbit, flying high above the International Space Station (ISS) in the first mission of its kind.

This historic and innovative deployment is a part of the first-ever program in which an ISS Commercial Resupply Vehicle has deployed satellites at an altitude higher than the ISS after completing its primary cargo delivery mission. Flying at 500 kilometers provides an open door for new technology development as well as an extended life for CubeSats deployed in low-Earth orbit.

“Our External Cygnus Deployment program was developed with the customer in-mind. Now with an altitude boost to 500 kilometers, the lifespan of these CubeSats will be greatly extended – we’re expecting at least 2 years additional lifetime compared to our ISS deployment program,” says NanoRacks CTO Mike Lewis. “Additionally, we are able to run this satellite program without use of the Kibo Airlock, helping to save crew time and other valuable resources.“

Repurposing in-space vehicles is a crucial part of NanoRacks’ larger vision of commercial space stations. The External Cygnus Deployment program has shown just one of endless possibilities for reusing and repurposing in-space vehicles. Recently, NanoRacks was one of six companies awarded the NASA NextSTEPs Phase II grant for a concept study using spent in-space vehicles as the primary base of commercial habitats in low-Earth orbit and beyond. NanoRacks looks forward to continued partnerships with Orbital ATK and their Cygnus vehicle to pursue this mission.

Thank you to our partners and friends at NASA, the ISS Program Office, Orbital-ATK, and Spire for making this mission a success.

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About NanoRacks

NanoRacks LLC was formed in 2009 to provide commercial hardware and services for the U.S. National Laboratory onboard the International Space Station via a Space Act Agreement with NASA. NanoRacks’ main office is in Houston, Texas, right alongside the NASA Johnson Space Center. The Business Development office is in Washington, DC. Additional offices are located in Silicon Valley, California and Leiden, Netherlands.

In July 2015, NanoRacks signed a teaming agreement with Blue Origin to offer integration services on their New Shepard space vehicle. NanoRacks, along with partners at ULA and Space Systems Loral was also recently selected by NASA to participate in the NextSTEPs Phase II program to develop commercial habitation systems in low-Earth orbit and beyond.

As of July 2016, over 375 payloads have been launched to the International Space Station via NanoRacks services, and our customer base includes the European Space Agency (ESA) the German Space Agency (DLR,) the American space agency (NASA,) US Government Agencies, Planet Labs, Urthecast, Space Florida, NCESSE, Virgin Galactic, pharmaceutical drug companies, and organizations in Vietnam, UK, Romania and Israel.

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